A new study on the health of Long Island Sound calls for more than $6 billion in improvements to wastewater plants that discharge into rivers or directly into the Sound, along with increased public involvement in efforts to improve water quality.

Sound Vision, a 26-page report that lays out a plan for the next 10 years, recommends public-private partnerships to pay for the work that will be needed. About $1.8 billion of the $6 billion in water quality work is in Connecticut, with the rest in New York, the study's authors say. About $800 million in work is needed just to meet the goal of reducing nitrogen in the Sound by 58 percent over the next three years. Nitrogen reduces the level of oxygen in the water, creating "dead zones" where few species thrive.

Among the study's other goals is to reduce the amount of personal care products that wash into the Sound by creating a program where empty product containers can be returned to pharmacies or stores.

"A lot of it is medicines and pill bottles that maybe fall out of purses or pockets and into the water," said Rebecca Kaplan of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

The study also recommends studying the effect of Bronx River zebra mussels on the Sound, creating new oyster and shellfish beds, and fostering "undevelopment" to avoid creating new hardened or paved surfaces that increase water runoff.

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Major recommendations in report: -- Create a program where customers can return used personal care products to pharmacies -- Complete an updated conservation and management plan by 2014 -- Reduce nitrogen pollution in the Sound by 58.5 percent by 2014, by spending $800 million on sewer plant upgrades in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford. -- Increase the opportunities for voluntary public donations for Long Island Sound projects. Sales of a special Save the Sound license plate fund current state programs. -- Reduce "dead zones,'' areas of low oxygen levels in the Sound. -- Restore marshes and shore habitats. -- Pilot programs to study zebra mussels in the Bronx River and new shellfish zones.

Members of the Long Island Sound Citizens Advisory Committee, which has members from New York and Connecticut, drafted the Sound Visions study released Monday.

Among the committee members were Tanya Court, of the Business Council of Fairfield County; Jennifer Herring, of the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk; and Allen Berrien, Milford's harbor master.

"After two years of working with stakeholders, community organizations, scientists and businesses, (the committee) has developed an action plan that lays out clear steps to protect and heal the Sound," said Curt Johnson, program director of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and the committee's co-chairman.

Leah Schmalz, legal affairs director for Save the Sound, said the study creates a "common agenda" for New York and Connecticut residents to protect their shared resources and heritage.

Committee members will discuss specifics of the plan at a series of stops later this summer in waterfront communities. The plan will be presented in Bridgeport on Aug. 15 and in Greenwich on Sept. 6, Kaplan said. Exact locations have not been set.

Reach Frank Juliano at 203-520-6986 or fjuliano@ctpost.com Follow him at twitter.com/FrankJuliano or blog.connpost.com/juliano.